Cleansing the body: for and against

Author: Maria Spano, Master of Science, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, Strength and General Physical Training

Cleansing the body is the last squeak of fashion, but will it bring you tangible benefits? Nutritionist Maria Spano will consider all the pros and cons from the perspective of the athlete.

If our body looked like a drainage system, we could clean it up in two counts. Just fall asleep enzymes at one end, and all the mysterious slag inside you disappear, as if by magic, leaving a perfectly clean surface from head to toe. A tempting picture, is not it?

But fortunately for us, our bodies are not so simple arranged. They are a complex plexus of organs, tissues and metabolic products – some of them are useful, some are harmful, and some are altogether ephemeral – that work together and ensure the uninterrupted operation of the entire system.

Of course, there are exceptions, and at times we feel that the system does not work so well. From time to time, there is an inexplicable decline in strength. The digestive tract begins to do what it should not, or refuses to do what it should. And sometimes you just feel squeezed like a lemon. Today, more and more people, faced with such problems, begin to look for the "reset" button and often use for this purpose various programs for "cleansing" the body.

There are infinitely many options for purification, so there is plenty to choose from. They cover the whole spectrum in terms of the radical measures and the loudness of promises. Perhaps at this moment you nod in agreement or shake your head disapprovingly, expecting that I will drop the bomb on all these "cleaners". Well, save your emotions! I am here to calmly and reasonably approach a question that can be very delicate.

Ready? Let's see if it is necessary to cleanse you.

Most purification programs come from the premise that the human body is like a large and dirty garbage container, in which toxins from the environment, pesticides, allergens, decay products and inflammatory substances settle daily. Mix it all, and you'll get something like a piece of industrial waste stuck to the walls of your intestines. It is believed that this disrupts digestion, causes flatulence, fatigue and fat deposition; There are also muscles and joints under the crossfire.

Purification programs, often called detox-diets, are like cleaning services for your body. Their staff is staffed with specialists – both people and food – that promise to destroy toxin molecules, clean cells and tissues, remove the decay products and suppress the inflammatory fire that is raging inside of you. The result will be the normalization of digestion and metabolism, which again makes you beautiful and attractive.

All cleaning programs are accompanied by instructions in which you are asked to break your own organic garden, brush off the dust from the cookbook and start cooking yourself. Okay, not exactly, although it would be great if it was so. In most cases, during cleaning, you need to completely eliminate alcohol, coffee and cigarettes, as well as products that have undergone intensive processing. Some go even further and recommend eating only raw food that has not been processed, genetically modified or processed with radiation, pesticides or herbicides.

Finally, in the most severe detox programs, food is completely replaced – at least for several days – with home-made juices or special purchased juices. And as soon as you refuse everything that is supposedly harmful to your body, the magic of strict intake of carefully selected drugs or detox drinks begins, including laxatives, plant diuretics, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon juice. Some cleaning programs are designed for 24 hours, while others are stretched for a month or more.

Abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs has a strong detoxification effect, because you stop feeding the body with poisons that are contained in this poison. But the next question is, can liters of freshly squeezed organic juice, water with lemon and cayenne pepper and a glass of apple cider vinegar before bedtime promise a similar effect?

At the moment there is no scientific evidence that certain combinations of detox diet components are really effective. Admittedly, the lack of scientific work does not mean that a specific purification program does not work, and you will not feel better, especially if it includes time-tested fibers, fruits and vegetables. Without a doubt, these are useful and important things. But in the role of the cleaning service they can not be compared with the internal bodies created for this work. Let's look at the two main "cleaning" systems of our body to understand why.

1 treatment system: liver and kidneys

Each body has a self-cleaning system that helps it to work without failures. For example, hairs in the nose and mucus in the bronchi play the role of a filter for harmful substances, dust and bacteria. Your kidneys are filtered around 2 liters of decay products per day, and all this is excreted in the urine. And your liver neutralizes toxins and cleanses the blood before it goes around the body. If these bodies do not cope with their tasks, a good doctor is needed, and not a cleansing program.

The above reactions occur in your body every second, and to date there is no scientific evidence that supports the beneficial effects of detox programs on these processes.

2 Treatment System: Thin and Large Intestine

And what about what is hidden in the intestines? Some purification programs are built on laxatives, "scrubbing" the body and removing from the intestines fecal stones. If you suffer from constipation, the normalization of the chair will do you good. Just do not get used to laxatives. Because of them you can run into gases, painful colic and diarrhea. Never take laxatives longer than 1 a week, unless they are prescribed by your doctor. Otherwise, there will be a dependence, and you can not empty the bowels without their help. Malignant abuse of laxatives can lead to serious damage to the nerves, muscles and tissues of the small and large intestine.

At a long distance laxatives can not be used. As a rule, it is possible to fight with constipation by a systematic increase in the consumption of plant fiber and the volume of liquid drunk. By the way, keep in mind that if you drink a little, a diet high in dietary fiber can exacerbate the problem of constipation.

Detox programs that cut the diet to zero or almost to zero can cause a feeling of fatigue and dizziness, and a drop in blood sugar will lead to headaches. Rigid instructions, limited choice of products and ritual adherence to the protocol for the intake of juices or preparations may in some cases provoke an eating disorder or close a vicious cycle in those who already suffered from such a disorder. If your life has been eating disorders, it is better to stay away from such diets.

In most cases, detox diets are poor in protein, so you will lose weight and through the breakdown of muscle tissue, especially if you continue to exercise, no matter how intense. In addition, most detox programs have too few vitamins and minerals important for physical performance and recovery, for example, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.

Short-term rejection of foods rich in vitamins and minerals, most likely, will not cause any problems, unless before that you did not have a deficiency of vitamins and trace elements. In the long term, such cleaning can definitely cause problems, so be careful.

Some people believe in cleansing the body without limit. They claim that they feel better and full of energy – and I'm not going to say that all this is only a figment of their imagination. There are several rational explanations for this.

Firstly, it's nice to realize that you can stick to strict regime for a long time, especially if in the past there were problems with self-control. There is a psychological upsurge associated with pride because you have enough discipline and willpower to manage your appetite.

In addition, there are several possible reasons for the euphoria in the background of the diet.

  • Waiver of many products can mean that you have eliminated blatantly useless food, and at the same time some foods to which you may have hypersensitivity, intolerance or allergies.

If you can not cope with the desire to try to clean the body or a detox diet, and while in general you are healthy and do not suffer from chronic diseases, forward, satisfy your curiosity by choosing a short and not too prohibitive program. Just do not start a cleansing or detox program in the middle of a heavy training cycle, during illness and against emotional or physical stress.

When the body cleansing comes to an end, use the experience gained as a springboard to a healthier lifestyle, which has enough space for regular exercise, rich diet richness and full sleep. These are real secrets of longevity, which will help you look great and feel great for decades. No matter how you come to them, they are worth the effort. And if they displace less useful habits, well, consider this the best cleaning!


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